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   Oct 12

Sore throat? Forget honey and lemon – try some MOSS

Icelandic moss is scientifically similar to the plant that grows throughout Europe

It is abundant in calcium, iodine, potassium, phosphorus – and various vitamins

These have soothing properties for the throat’s mucous membrane, experts say

In folk medicine, the medicinal plant has been widely used since the 17th century

Studies have shown it, in lozenge form, to ease dry, sore throats and hoarseness

From honey and lemon to gargling salt water, there are many natural remedies we use to soothe a sore throat.

Now, research suggests there could be a new remedy to ease your pain and rasping voice – moss.

Specifically, it is Icelandic moss, which is similar to the plant that grows throughout Europe, that has such benefits. Also known as Cetraria islandica, it is rich in many minerals – calcium, iodine, potassium, phosphorus – and various vitamins.

Crucially, all of these have soothing and protective properties for the throat’s mucous membrane – the ‘squishy’ lining of the mouth and throat. Icelandic Moss also contains mucilage – a thick, sticky substance that helps to soothe by coating a sore throat.

The plant helps to reduce pain and stop germs multiplying, according to research. Experts also believe it is safer than paracetamol which can be ‘problematic’ and raise the risk of kidney, liver and heart damage in children.

In folk medicine, the medicinal plant has been used since the 17th century, predominantly for respiratory and lung disorders.

Trials proving its benefit

A randomised placebo-controlled trial of 61 patients found that Icelandic Moss in lozenge form reduced symptoms including a dry, sore throat and sore hoarseness.

And studies show that its effects are even greater when combined with another natural ingredient used to treat sore throats and dry coughs – mallow.

Also known as Althaea officinalis, this plant’s leaves and flowers also contain mucilage, which coat the tissues lining the mouth and throat like a balm.

As a result, it has been used for centuries to treat irritation a sore, dry throat.

Mallow extract: The benefits

Research has also found Mallow’s root extract can also significantly reduce the frequency and intensity of a cough – as much as the medicine codeine.

In fact, so effective are mallow’s medical properties, it is listed in the World Health Organisation’s Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants – the official ‘bible’ when it comes to the health benefits of various plants.


Icelandic moss is a plant similar to moss that grows throughout Europe, predominantly at higher altitudes.

It is rich in calcium, iodine, potassium, phosphorus and various vitamins, and has soothing and protective properties for the mucous membrane – the ‘squishy’ lining of the mouth and throat.

As a proven herbal ingredient, it works by acting on the pharynx, the part of the throat behind the mouth and the nasal cavity and above the larynx.

When you have a virus or infection, the membranes of the pharynx and also the mucin layer – the layer which secretes mucus – become inflamed and irritated.

Icelandic Moss has been shown in clinical trials to play a pivotal role in reducing this inflammation.

It does this by creating a protective film on the inflamed areas when the plant’s sticky mucilage coats the upper layers of the mouth’s mucus membranes.

This helps to sooth and desensitises the pain receptors and decrease the inflammation in that area – also reducing the urge to cough.

Of adults and children with a sore throat and/or laryngitis who took a combination of Icelandic Moss and mallow in lozenge form, 86 per cent reported a benefit, according to the World Health Organisation’s monograph of the plant.

When they are combined…

Research also shows that when combined with mallow, the effect of both ingredients together means the throat is doubly coated with a protective film which soothes, can prevent further pathogens from penetrating and also calm a dry cough.

In a clinical study, published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Therapy, 61 patients with a sore throat were followed – and scientists found that mallow and Icelandic Moss helped coat the delicate mucous membranes in the throat.

At the start of the trial, only 12 per cent had an intact (i.e. healthy) throat lining – but after five days of the lozenges this had risen to 71 per cent.

Mallow and moss have also been shown to help relieve a cough.

The same study, which involved 75 children with a sore throat and dry cough, also recorded a 60 per cent improvement of the dry cough.

What did the researchers say?

‘The therapy was deemed to be very good (67 per cent) or good (75 per cent) by physicians and parents or children – and more than 90 per cent tolerated it very well,’ the researchers reported.

They concluded that ‘Icelandic moss [and mallow] paediatric sore throat and cough syrup – shows good efficacy and excellent tolerance’.

The findings provide a natural alternative – and give fresh hope to parents of school children, who contract as many as 10 upper respiratory tract infections (i.e. a cough, cold or sore throat) each year, according to scientists at the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University.

Sore throats strike first

And it’s the sore throat that tends to strike first, according to a survey of UK parents by the manufacturers of Throaty Soothe, a new range of liquid and lozenges containing both mallow and moss as active ingredients.

More than 81 per cent of children complain of a sore throat when they catch a cold, followed by a blocked or runny nose and then sneezing.

The survey also found

Nearly half of children miss at least two days of school a year due to a sore throat
The average parent waits five days before they go to the GP about their child’s sore throat
Nearly 20 per cent of parents have given their children medicines designed for adults because they were desperate to get rid of their child’s pain
This is despite the fact that the majority of cough and cold remedies have now been deemed by the Department of Health to be unsafe for children, especially those under six, ‘as the balance of benefits and risk has not been shown to be favourable’.

The UK’s first moss and mallow combination

‘Crucially, mallow and moss – the ingredients found in the new Throaty Soothe range of sore throat syrup and lozenges – are suitable for children over 12 months,’ explains Dr Chris Etheridge, a practicing medical herbalist and plant medicine expert.


Mallow is a flowering plant also known as Althaea officinalis.

It has been used for centuries to treat irritation to the delicate tissues lining the mouth and throat – and the sore, dry throat and cough it can cause.

The plant’s leaves and flowers also contain sticky mucilage which coats and soothes the throat.

Mallow’s root extract (Althaeae radix) and a type of carbohydrate found in it, can also significantly reduce the frequency and intensity of a cough – as much as the medicine codeine.

‘Until recently, treatment options have been limited, particularly for very young children.

‘However, mallow and Icelandic moss have clearly understandable modes of action and well-documented performance. And this is the first time they have been combined in the UK to provide a solution to sore throats and coughs.’

Paracetamol dangers

The problem is that a number of over-the-counter medicines currently used to relieve symptoms of a sore throat contain paracetamol. Yet the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has warned that the ‘permissive and pervasive’ use of this analgesic put children at risk of kidney, liver and heart damage.

Dr Etheridge adds: ‘There is currently a clear need for a safe and effective treatment which relieves sore throat symptoms in young children and is free from problematic ingredients such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.

‘The concerns around existing treatments, and the lack of treatment options for infants and very young children, prompted a search for alternatives and re-examination of sore throat treatments with a history of traditional use for treatment of sore throat – in this case, mallow and moss.’

Stop dishing out Calpol

In 2015, paediatric experts at University College London warned that parents are putting their children’s health at risk by giving them Calpol too readily, doctors have warned.

And in 2013, Spanish research found that children given Calpol or similar medicines at least once a month were up to four times more likely to develop asthma.

The academics suggested that paracetamol reduces the amount of a chemical called glutathione in the lungs and blood, which damages the lung tissue.

Source: Daily Mail

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